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V&A to present history of underwear

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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London’s V&A Museum is placing underwear under the spotlight for its next fashion exhibition, Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear, which will run from April next year until March, 2017 featuring more than 200 examples of underwear for men and women.

The concept of the exhibition will be to document the story of underwear from the 18th century to the present day, considering the practical and personal, sensory and fashionable and exploring underwear’s roles of protecting and enhancing the body.

Curated by Edwina Ehrman, the exhibition will also explore the relationship between underwear and fashion, notions of the ideal body, and the ways that cut, fit, fabric and decoration can reveal issues of gender, sex and morality.

On display will be corsets, crinolines, boxer shorts, bras, hosiery, lingerie and loungewear, with highlights including long cotton drawers worn by Queen Victoria’s mother, a sheer dress by Liza Bruce famously worn by Kate Moss, and flesh-coloured leggings decorated with a mirrored glass fig leaf by Vivienne Westwood.

Other key pieces include a Calvin Klein crop top and briefs worn with low-slung hot pants, and a transparent and embroidered muslin dress worn with lace knickers, designed by John Galliano for Givenchy haute couture, as well as designs by Jean Paul Gaultier, Elie Saab, Dolce and Gabbana, Sibling, Acne and Antonio Berardi.

Undressed: A Brief History of Underwear will take place in the V&A Fashion Gallery from April 16, 2016 - March 12, 2017. Tickets go on sale in February.

The show was already tested on a smaller scale in three Australian venues, the Bendigo Art Gallery, Queensland Museum and Powerhouse Museum.

Image: V&A Museum

V&A Museum